Phenomena

Shrinking Red Spot

Observations show Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot is shrinking, most recently at a rate of more than 900 km a year. As it gets smaller, the storm is also changing shape and becoming more circular. Scientists don’t yet have an explanation for the shrinkage or its recent acceleration, but this is unsurprising given the rich complexity of the storm. For example, the source of the Red Spot’s longevity–it may be more than 300 years old–is still an open topic of research. Some of the most recent observations show smaller eddies feeding into the storm; the current hypothesis is that these eddies may be increasing the Red Spot’s dissipation and accelerating its breakup. (Photo credit: NASA/ESA; h/t to io9)

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